Reading: Isaiah 58:1-12
Shout out, do not hold back! Lift up your voice like a trumpet! Announce to my people their rebellion, to the house of Jacob their sins. Yet day after day they seek me and delight to know my ways, as if they were a nation that practiced righteousness and did not forsake the ordinance of their God; they ask of me righteous judgments, they delight to draw near to God.
“Why do we fast, but you do not see? Why humble ourselves, but you do not notice?” Look, you serve your own interest on your fast day, and oppress all your workers. Look, you fast only to quarrel and to fight and to strike with a wicked fist. Such fasting as you do today will not make your voice heard on high. Is such the fast that I choose, a day to humble oneself? Is it to bow down the head like a bulrush, and to lie in sackcloth and ashes? Will you call this a fast, a day acceptable to the Lord? Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover them, and not to hide yourself from your own kin?
Then your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up quickly; your vindicator shall go before you, the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; you shall cry for help, and he will say, Here I am. If you remove the yoke from among you, the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil, if you offer your food to the hungry and satisfy the needs of the afflicted, then your light shall rise in the darkness and your gloom be like the noonday. The Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy your needs in parched places, and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters never fail. Your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; you shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to live in.
I’ve recently started going to yoga classes for the first time in over a decade. I’m older and a few pounds heavier, so in addition to using muscles I’d long forgotten about, I’m also having to adjusting to the way once-familiar yoga poses feel on my changed body. I am, quite literally, trying to find my balance.
I suppose that’s the challenge we all face in life—finding physical, spiritual, and emotional balance in an ever-evolving world. We balance, for example, our own needs against the needs of others. We teeter on the edge of the many aspects of our lives—home, work, church, civic involvement—trying to find the perfect balance between them all. And we balance our desire to know God, Isaiah seems to proclaim, with the fear that God does not truly know us. That last one is fairly simple to address, my friends, even if we struggle to accept it. God DOES know us, in spite of our belief otherwise. God know us, loves us, and guides us in finding our balance—today, tomorrow, and always.
–Lisa Raylene Barnes
Nurturing God, you are the one who offers us stability in times when we feel out of balance. Give us the strength to stand tall, even when we are struggling to find our footing.